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Valley has 40,481 vacant single-family homes, data show

The 6,000 “zombie foreclosures” are just a subset of the estimated 40,481 vacant single-family homes in the Las Vegas Valley, said Marcus Conklin, associate director of the Lied Institute for Real Estate Studies at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

A fourth-quarter report from the Lied Institute calculated a vacancy rate of 8.4 percent on 482,272 single-family housing units in the valley. Las Vegas also has 16,542 empty condominiums, or 20.6 percent of total inventory, and 5,137 vacant townhouses, or 12.2 percent of total inventory.

Among those vacancies are the “zombie foreclosures” identified by Irvine, Calif.-based RealtyTrac as vacant or abandoned homes in some stage of foreclosure. Roughly half of the foreclosure inventory in Las Vegas is vacant, the online listing service reported.

Comparing “zombie foreclosures” to other vacant homes in Las Vegas is like comparing apples to oranges, Conklin said. The U.S. Census Bureau puts the fourth-quarter vacancy rate at 1.9 percent for owner-occupied housing and 8.7 percent for rental housing.

Seasonal vacancy is around 2 percent nationwide, and Las Vegas is probably higher, Conklin said.

“That’s homes where they don’t live here all year,” he said. “I can tell you from walking Sun City Summerlin, particularly in the summer and fall, I saw a lot of vacant homes.”

The Lied Institute’s report takes an aggregate look at vacant homes. Those would include homes in transition between renters, homes of people who’ve temporarily moved out for renovations, homes belonging to “snowbirds” and second-home owners, and homes that are in foreclosure but haven’t been scheduled for trustee sale.

Luis Lopez, a Lied Institute data analyst, said vacancy has decreased from 10.5 percent, or 50,337 homes, in fourth quarter 2011. That’s a positive sign, he said.

“It just seems closer to the natural rate,” Lopez said.

The Lied report showed 1,662 building permits issued in the fourth quarter, compared with 968 in fourth quarter 2011. There were 1,443 single-family permits, 173 multifamily permits and 46 commercial permits in the quarter.

Available inventory on the MLS fell to 14,601 from 16,944 in the year-ago period; median list price climbed to $145,000 from $139,900.

The absorption rate, calculated by dividing the number of listings at the end of the month by the number of sales, was 4.93 in December, compared with 5.86 in July. The absorption rate suggest the market has months of supply if no more inventory is added and sales volume remains constant.

The ratio of new listings to sales dropped to 0.73 in December from 1.21 in July.

Apartment vacancy was reported at 9.8 percent for 161,529 units, with average rent of $742 a month.

FEWER SUBDIVISIONS

The number of actively selling new-home subdivisions in the Las Vegas Valley has dwindled to about 140, down from 190 a year ago and from 400 during the peak of the housing boom, said Geoff Gorman, vice president of sales for Harmony Homes.

Even with reduced residential development, new-home sales in Las Vegas have trended upward with 512 closings in January, a 138 percent increase from the same month a year earlier, research firm SalesTraq reported.

“There are fewer communities producing more sales, and last year was actually pretty good for us,” Gorman said. “You’ve got fewer hands trying to get a piece of the pie.”

Las Vegas-based Harmony Homes is finishing site work for its newest development, Silhouette, in the southwestern valley. It’s set to open at the end of this month.

COMMERCIAL DEFAULTS

The largest commercial mortgage default in February was $21.5 million for a 99,000-square-foot professional building at 400 S. Fourth St. in downtown Las Vegas. The owner of record is NNN City Centre Place; the original beneficiary is LaSalle Bank.

Also, Hayden Housing defaulted on an $11.5 million loan with Column Financial for a 252-unit apartment property at 2125 Las Vegas Blvd South.

Nevada Title Co. reported 23 notices of default filed for commercial properties in February, with a total loan amount exceeding $72.7 million.

TRAVELODGE SOLD

The 106-room Travelodge Ambassador Strip Inn has been sold to a private investor for $3.3 million, or about $31,000 a room, said Evan Griffith, an investment specialist for Marcus & Millichap in Las Vegas who had the exclusive listing.

“As the market continues to recover, investors are focusing on properties that have an irreplaceable infill location,” Griffith said. “This property sits within walking distance to the Strip, as well as easy access to McCarran International Airport.”

The two-story hotel was built in 1988 and sits on 1.57 acres at 5075 Koval Lane. It has 88 double-queen rooms, 17 king rooms and a honeymoon suite.

BANK AWARD

Bank of Nevada won the Financial Institution of the Year award from the Southern Nevada chapter of National Association of Industrial and Office Properties. The bank, founded in 1994, has financed $115 in commercial real estate projects in Southern Nevada with term loans and construction loans.

Term loans include $31 million for office, $15 million for retail and $9 million for industrial. Construction-related projects are broken down as $52.8 million for office, $1.58 million for retail and $5.7 million for industrial.

Contact reporter Hubble Smith at hsmith@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0491.

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